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Culture Books


Four novels from Christian publishers

Glory Road

Lauren K. Denton

Post-divorce, Jessie moves back to her hometown with her teenage daughter. They live next door to Jessie’s mother on Glory Road, a bucolic dirt lane in southern Alabama. Each chapter alternates in first person between the three: Jessie, who at 38 mistakenly thinks she’s missed her chance at lasting love; Evan, the 14-year-old anxious to spread her wings in high school; and Augusta, the spunky widow facing a scary diagnosis. This sweet book about family ties exudes so much Southern charm that the scent of magnolias practically wafts from the pages.

All Manner of Things

Susie Finkbeiner

Set in 1967 near Lake Chippewa, Mich., All Manner of Things follows the Jacobson family, seen through the eyes of 18-year-old Annie. She leads a mundane life with two exceptions: her older brother’s Army deployment to Vietnam and her estranged father’s sporadic visits. Finkbeiner gives Annie a strong supporting cast and weaves together authentic details of the turbulent 1960s: race relations, hippies, rock ’n’ roll, and TV dinners. Faith and hope remain central in this heartwarming story as Annie prays for her brother’s return from war and dreams of her father rejoining the family.

Where Dandelions Bloom

Tara Johnson

When Cassie Kendrick’s abusive father threatens to marry her off to their unsavory neighbor, she joins the Union Army disguised as a man. Posing as Thomas Turner, she proves to be a skilled soldier. Meanwhile, Gabriel Avery, a photographer employed by the famous Matthew Brady, travels with the troops and forms a friendship with “Private Turner.” Cassie continues the ruse even as her attraction to Gabe grows. Gabe’s admiration for the soldier turns to love when he discovers Cassie’s true identity. Both want God to heal their deep emotional wounds, but first they must survive the war.

On a Summer Tide

Suzanne Woods Fisher

When widower Paul Grayson buys a remote island off the coast of Maine, his three adult daughters are certain he’s made a huge mistake. That’s where the agreement stops, as their distinct personalities cause frequent squabbles and unexpressed emotions increase family tension. The sisters frequently mention their late mother’s strong faith, but they lack any spiritual mooring of their own. After a slow start, the plot picks up speed and reveals a compelling twist. Quirky locals and an unconventional schoolteacher complete the cast in this tale about forgiveness and second chances. 

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Dirty fighting

... And the Biblical alternative

The far-left Daily Kos says It’s Time to Fight Dirty by David Faris (Melville House, 2018) “should be mandatory reading” for all Democrats. Faris proposes statehood for the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico and the division of California into seven states: Then Democrats will control the Senate. He wants simple majorities to pass all legislation and approve all appointments. He wants to pack the Supreme Court and appeals courts. He wants voting for felons, with no registration or IDs needed for voting. 

And that’s not all. Faris proposes a massive amnesty for all immigrants and replacement of winner-take-all elections with ranked-choice voting so progressives can vote for far-left parties and still have their votes count for Democrats. He wants a big spending “blitzkrieg designed to reward the party’s most faithful supporters. … They must seize all the tools granted to them by the Constitution and they must not hold back on using any of them because it will strike some people as uncivil or unsportsmanlike.”

Many of today’s presidential candidates echo such agitation. They would be better off reading Peter Lillback’s Saint Peter’s Principles (P&R, 2019), which argues for fighting cleanly. Most books on leadership pass along worldly wisdom, but Lillback (a WORLD News Group board member) grounds his teaching firmly in Scripture. I’ve already used his chapter on “When the Leader Passes the Torch” in planning for WORLD’s future. 

World history, of course, is filled with dirty fighting. Amos Barshad’s No One Man Should Have All That Power: How Rasputins Manipulate the World (Abrams Press, 2019) has gossipy chapters about the behind-the-scenes controllers in spheres ranging from movies (Stanley Kubrick evoking acting from Tom Cruise) to sports (Alex Guerrero feeding Tom Brady fountain-of-youth recipes) to Central American politics (Rosario Murillo, the wife of corrupt Nicaraguan dictator Daniel Ortega). Other chapters eviscerate Steve Bannon, would-be Rasputin to Donald Trump, and Aleksandr Dugin, Vladimir Putin’s ear-whisperer (who compares himself to the wizard Merlin)—but I don’t know what’s true.

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Accessible theology books

The Unsaved

Christian Dean Inserra

A comment from a friend in seminary shaped Inserra’s framework for ministry and evangelism as a pastor in the Bible Belt: “You have to get them lost before they can actually be saved.” The problem of cultural Christianity reaches beyond the South, and Inserra offers ideas for talking about the gospel with people who claim to be Christians because they believe they are good people. He also challenges churches to think about their own methods, with chapters on “How Lax Church Membership Fosters Cultural Christianity” and “Making Decisions vs. Making Disciples.”


Greg Gilbert

Gilbert writes a Bible-saturated balm for Christians who have trusted in Christ but struggle with doubts about their salvation. It’s also a salve for Christians burdened by guilt over their sins and frustration over their progress in Christian living. Gilbert distinguishes between driving and confirming sources of assurance. The gospel of Christ is the driving source. Good works help confirm our union with Christ, but they aren’t the source of our salvation: “The blood of Jesus doesn’t barely sneak us into the presence of God; it actually gives us every right in the universe to be there.”

Our Ancient Foe

Ronald Kohl, ed.

The Christian life remains a battle against sin and Satan, but Satan sometimes gets less attention in our approach to Christian living. Kohl edits nine essays about Satan originally delivered as conference addresses by pastors and scholars, including Kent Hughes and Sinclair Ferguson. A chapter by Joel Beeke on Satan sifting Peter is a highlight. Jesus prayed Peter’s faith wouldn’t fail, and He preserves our faith too: “When Christ does a work, he does a full work.”

Pray Big

Alistair Begg

Alistair Begg reminds readers it’s good and Biblical to pray for our pressing physical and material needs. But he also encourages Christians to think about how to “pray big” by imitating the prayers of the Apostle Paul in the book of Ephesians. Paul tells the believers what’s on his prayer list for them: resurrection hope, the power of the Holy Spirit, and a deeper knowledge of the love of Christ. Begg encourages readers to prioritize praying for these bigger, spiritual blessings for themselves and others.


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